Showing posts with label Samoan art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Samoan art. Show all posts

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Loved by Art

My sister Elizabeth (Lisa) EWEST ART

I've always thought of myself as a future academic since I was playing in the sandbox at Sogi kindergarten. I wanted to study and study.  In Primary school, I needed to top my class because I was told to.   In college, I had to top because receiving a prize at the end was rewarding.  Yes, I am competitive, I'm a little smart and still a student of life. There is greatness all around and within us because we are God's masterpieces.  A few months ago, I founded Pele Project after I fell out of bed and hit my head on the creative side! Now I dream of patterns, circles, colour combos running around my head. When I sit in a room full of academics, CEOs, head of government departments in a meeting, at a conference, in a general discussion, when the discussion gets a big repetitive my brain will switch to the artsy side. I will think dancing colours and lines and no I am not high! I was waiting for it to go away, to leave me be but it simply won't.  I was expected to be

  • be a civil engineer like my father
  • a farmer like my civil engineer-turned farmer father
  • entrepreneur like mother dearest
  • a writer because I'm good at it?
  • an aviator, a pilot because I flew planes as a student pilot for two years 
  • to make something of myself in the aviation world because that's where my passion lies
  • not to meddle in the arts because it's not in my genes, my genes are pre-dominantly Science-Biology, Physics, Maths --no chemistry
  • to work at a desk and fumble with papers all my life

This creative fall has given a girl some bizarre and crazy ideas.  One of them is to sit in the front row at a fashion show while models of all shapes and sizes  (no anorexic models) walk that cat walk with big island smiles on their faces! I read that models are not allowed to smile! For crying out loud, most people don't look at the models, they are just hangers? so why would any one be bothered if they smile or not.
If you look at nature, the colours are infinite which depicts the artistic mind of God.  The universe is bursting at the seams with art.  The very fabric of  the human race is made up of a myriad of colours. Most things that are magnified a hundred, thousand times have colour.  I believe there are colours in nature that we have not yet discovered or named.  Have you seen the ocean depth videos from Discovery Channel? Don't you wish you can touch all those fish? The plants and different species that live in the ocean are amazing.

Art is in our environment, our culture, our siva (dances), our people.  This is where artists draw their inspiration from.There is no limit to art and there is no fence or cage to keep it locked.  There are copycats, there are criminals, there are people with no original thought and lack the ability to think and create on their own.  There are greedy people in this world and we can't avoid that.  We all coexist. Have you counted the colours of starfish? Have you seen the different colours of the ocean? Yes yes, much for than fifty shades of grey! Have you felt the petals of frangipanis, bougainvillea, mosooi and their numerous forms?

Something truly amazing happens when you put paint on paper.  Something within us comes to life.  We cannot help but create beautiful artistic masterpieces because this is a gift from our Creator.  God put colour on this Earth so that people will enjoy them, so a conversation will start between Him and us.  He painted the earth and us so intricately, patiently, softly, marvelously thus we are so 'fearfully and wonderfully made'.  We forget at times that art is not just in paintings.  Art is in movement or action, a spoken word, written word, art is everywhere.  “The great hall was shimmering in light, sun streaming from the open windows, and ablaze with colour, the walls decorated with embroidered hangings in rich shades of gold and crimson. New rushes had been strewn about, fragrant with lavender, sweet woodruff, and balm... the air was... perfumed with honeysuckle and violet, their seductive scents luring in from the gardens butterflies as blue as the summer sky.”
~Sharon Kay Penman, Devil's Brood

Last week I was invited to Samoa Arts Council's Fashion and Art Show at Sinalei Reef Resort. It was a great night showcasing the arts.  There was dancing, fashion,speeches, collaborations, networking and glorious food! I wish more people were there and I wish more Samoans took interest in studying, participating, preserving our OWN art instead of complaining when non-Samoans do. Unless we take ownership of our own art and give it the pedestal it deserves, others will keep copying, exploiting, selling, cheapening our art.  We are proud when we hear of our tatau (tattoo) being discussed in international circles and we are proud of our Manu Samoa wearing tattooed jerseys on the field, we are proud to wear lavalavas for summer in New Zealand and Australia yet how little we know about the history! I for one know very little about the arts but I'm learning everyday.  I don't know where most of our artwork/siva/designs/movements are from.  There is room to learn, there is time to accumulate knowledge, there is time to wake up and take ownership of what's ours.  Are those forms of art truly ours? They must have originated from somewhere and we may never know.  I know all things start from the Creator so I can confidently say that art originated from the creator of the Universe!

How else can we explain the wonder, the mystery, the beauty of art?

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.
Georgia O'Keeffe”
Georgia O'Keeffe

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pele project

One of the greatest things about working at the airport is the daily drive that I take from home to work.  This may be a headache in Auckland,Tokyo,London, Phuket, Suva (I've driven in some of these places during traffic jams!) but here on my island, it's a privilege.  The 40 minute drive distributes to my imagination immensely!  Apart from the odd hitchhiker, stray dog, thinking cows that disturb my thoughts, the whole drive is pretty relaxing.  Other days it's a healing experience from the bustle of work.

My green views!

There were times when I moved back home after being away, like most people I began to dream of the big cities and wishing I was there instead.  However, after traveling to other places like New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Japan,Thailand,Indonesia,America (USA),France,Belgium, England (UK) etc, staying in Samoa has become a new and a much more pleasant experience. These days, I see beauty on my tiny island.  Sure, the sight of the big city lights are alluring and the fine dining is something to live for but there is something in us islanders that beckons us back to the rich soils of home.  The smell of fresh cut grass and hot bread is not the same anywhere.  Perhaps it is the navigator-ocean- spirit in us! I don't know any Samoan that does not like green or blue!

Anyway, on these long drives I appreciate the greenery, the straight line of neatly kept hedges and the white stones decorating village gardens.  Samoans are proud people, they will not let their grass grow out of control or become lazy in their garden sessions, especially in the villages.   I enjoy watching the children walk eagerly to school, the young men with their plantation tools carried on their shoulders for a day at the taro/banana batch, the elderly women dressed in their bright floral dresses on their way to some village call.  I discover something new during my drives everyday.  There is so much happening on my little island.  We are not all grass skirts, ti leaves and coconut breasted people.

There is something growing, exploding among and in the Samoans these days.  It has always been there, hidden and undiscovered until the last few years! There is TALENT! Apart from our daily routines, our family obligations, village and church protocols, more and more people are discovering their talents.  Perhaps it's the coming age of technology, people are awake now to what's happening outside of Samoa.  We are discovering that there exists a higher appreciation for our art than before.  There is a real demand for it and people from other cultures including our own are willing to pay for it.  Even our people who are living away from home are learning new ways to express our culture in visual, performing and other forms of art. Hello Talent!  

In a small village in Samoa, I recently discovered this talent.  It is definitely not me.  In July I was invited to be a part of something great---a wedding! Pele and Asi attend the same church as me and I was their Maid of Honour. As it turned out, Asi, the fit groom, is an art graduate although he was working small jobs, doing other things unrelated to art. Being a newly wed, he is now the man of the house and needs to support his family.  There are a few jobs for artists in Samoa.  I suggested that he should consider doing something with his art.  Along with the help of his beautiful wife Pele, he finally jumped into his talent suit and produced the following pieces.
Airport Drive
Tribal Pink
 This reminds me of my airport drives! Aren't they beautiful??

Firy Red (I've changed the original colour)

 These are all hand painted, hand drawn artwork printed on different materials. The designs change each time so no orders are quite the same except when the client wants a duplicate.  I took the liberty of naming these designs :).  Presently, Asi and Pele have a small workshop in front of their house at Aleisa (small village in Upolu).  In the last few weeks, their designs have taken a life of their own.  We have a few regular customers ordering on a weekly basis/monthly basis.  One time, when I went to collect an order or 20 handcrafted, handpicked pieces, someone who was driving along the road bought them all on the spot! 

I'd like to think I am part of this beautiful adventure.  I might be the untalented -know nothing about art poet who pops in and out sporadically to pester Asi into moving things along, I'm glad that his talent is being put to good use.  The best thing is, he is earning money to support his wee family from his artwork and there is a group of overseas clients who are extremely passionate about having these made into scarves/bags/uniforms.

Pele project as I call it is well on the way.  They are planning to 
  • acquire a business license (they might done this already)
  • have a facebook page once they have a good camera
  • have an email 
  • keep doing what they loving doing---creating more artwork
There is so much talent out there, we just need to nurture it so the artists can reap the benefits of being blessed with such gifts. They can personally take control of their own success. I am a big believer in being your own boss.  Those who are their own boss work according to their passion, their creativity, they also tend to work harder and longer than those who work to the beat of someone else's whip! They find new ways to motivate themselves.  So, if you feel uninspired, take a long drive among our greens, a thought might attack you lovingly and turn it into a masterpiece.

'The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own'~Benjamin Disraeli

See something you like? Pele project will help you out. Stay tuned!!

Note:All artwork displayed on this blog are copyrighted! Pele Project © 2013

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